Sunday, November 30, 2008

So you've been spreading the word about gas?

Gas prices dropped again at the BP at 76th & State in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago. $1.71! That's a dime lower than the national average!

But apparently a number of people have realized how low those prices are. When we visited there Sunday afternoon just after 3pm, ALL of the 87 octane pumps were empty! We passed on filling up (we were only 1/4 empty), even though the midgrade 89 Octane was just $1.83.

Many of the other area gas stations were still at $1.79 for 87 Octane.

If you've been spreading the word about gas, please let us know by a comment. We'd love to hear if we've been able to help out in these hard economc times.

Stroger: A Living, Breathing Case For Better Recycling Programs

Progress Illinois on Todd Stroger and his current Cook County budget.

Blue Cart pick up starts this week in the 6th ward

An update on the blue carts.

If you recieved one, you should have also received some information on it, including collection schedule.
In the 6th ward, homes SOUTH of 79th street will get the recycleables picked up THIS week (Dec. 1) and then every OTHER week after that. Homes NORTH of 79th street will get the recycleables picked up NEXT week (Dec. 8) and then every OTHER week after that.
Please note this blue cart is not a regular garbage can, so please be mindful what goes in there. Something that stuck out to me: plastic grocery bags, light bulbs and styrofoam should not go in the blue carts. There is a photo of what should go in on the top of the blue cart.
For more information on the Blue Cart system, check the city's Blue Cart website.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chicago Public Schools' Paddling Probe Widens

And now Harlan finds itself in the news on similar allegations that were made public from Simeon  from WBBM-TV:
The Chicago Public Schools' ongoing investigation into alleged paddling of student athletes by high school coaches has widened to include a fifth school, while several coaches have been suspended or had their jobs placed in limbo.

The most recent allegations involve paddling of football team members by a football coach at Harlan High, 9652 S. Michigan.

"Football season is over, so he is not currently coaching," CPS spokesman Mike Vaughn said this week.

High schools previously under investigation included Morgan Park, Marshall, Phillips and Simeon.
Via the Sixth Ward Everyblock feed. Look for it in the sidebar on this blog just under the feed for the Chicago Citizen Newspapers. All feeds are just above the Accuweather widget and below the Google Ads.

The Lone Daley Dissenter

Ald. Billy Ocasio is the lone vote against Daley's budget at this month's city council meeting. This vid of his speech was via The Beachwood Reporter.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Aldermen award staffs 5% raise

Our new friend Hugh takes aim at raises for aldermanic staff.

Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley on Public Affairs

Apparently on this episode of Public Affairs with Jeff Berkowitz is County Commisioner Mike Quigley. Talking about recent news in Cook County Government.

Another update on America's worst government--Cook County

John Ruberry at Marathon Pundit talks about a $2.9 billion dollar budget proposal by county board President Todd Stroger and the mistakes that were made in it.

Chicago Defies the Second Amendment

Steve Chapman:
Since the Supreme Court upheld the individual right to own guns last summer, one municipality with handgun bans after another has faced reality. Washington, which lost the case, changed its law. Morton Grove repealed its ban. So did Wilmette. Likewise for Evanston. Last week, Winnetka followed suit.

Then there is Chicago, which is being sued for violating the 2nd Amendment but refuses to confront the possibility that what the Supreme Court said may apply to this side of the Appalachians.

When it comes to firearms, Mayor Richard Daley is no slave to rationality. "Does this lead to everyone having a gun in our society?" he asked after the ruling came down. "Then why don't we do away with the court system and go back to the Old West, where you have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle it in the streets?"

From listening to him, you might assume that the only places in North America that don't have firefights on a daily basis are cities that outlaw handguns. You might also assume that Chicago is an oasis of concord, rather than the site of 443 homicides last year.

So it's no surprise that Daley refuses to make the slightest change to the handgun ordinance, preferring to fight the lawsuits filed by the National Rifle Association. He is not impressed that 1) the law almost certainly violates the Constitution, which elected officials are supposed to uphold, and 2) it would cost taxpayers a lot of money to fight lawsuits the city is bound to lose.
Read the whole thing. Via Newsalert!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chicago-area jobless rate up to 6.9%

The jobless rate for metropolitan Chicago rose in October to 6.9%, according to figures released Wednesday.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported that out of a labor force of 4 million people, 281,400 applied for unemployment benefits in October. Last month’s jobless rate was up from the 6.6% reported in September.

The Chicago-area figure encompasses data from Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, McHenry and Will counties.

Metro Chicago’s October unemployment rate was lower than the 7.3% reported for the state but higher than the nation’s 6.5% rate.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today on Thanksgiving Eve

At about Noon today a truck pulled up on the street and gave our block some blue containers for recycling. I was on 87th Street yesterday morning and saw them up and down 87th Street in front of the houses. I thought they were supposed to be in the alleys.

I had to walk around to see where they were installing them. I looked up the street in both directions and saw that there weren't blue containers in the front yards on the street. I had to go up a couple of block to see a block that had been delivered their blue containers.

I caught up with the crew who delivered ours. They just drove around the block and took care of the neighbors behind us. Today was the day to strike a blow for recycling.

Well I'm surprised they came by today, but I've been knowing about this for a while. So have those of you who read this blog and live in the 6th!

Do people from the North Side have an accurate view of us?

There’ some talk by bloggers in Uptown, and the comments mentioned our own area (79th & Vincennes). Look in the comments for one by UptownPits.

The area they are talking about is called Wilson Yards. More than 10 years ago, the “Wilson Yards”, former (as in decades ago) end-of-line & repair garage for the CTA burned down leaving a 5 acre parcel of land available – the largest such open space on the North Side. A TIF was developed to reconstruct the area. The problem is, the community has 2 loud camps (not including those in the middle): those who advocate for low income housing, and those who was to ** Uptown. The original plans called for demolition of an existing storefront building (which have since relocated across the street) & and Aldi (to be replaced by a new building), a new parking structure, Target, Movie Theaters, smaller stores, and 2 buildings of mixed income housing. This complex is right off of the Wilson Red Line El Stop, not too far from the Lake and even Wrigley Field.
The current situation is this:

  • Aldi has been the only thing built, and has been functions

  • Target has JUST gotten everything approved (i.e. internally) to officially build, and made an announcement that made the Chicago news circuit.

  • The Movie theater was dropped (to be built somewhere nearby)

  • The housing, now beginning construction. Opponents have likened it to Cabrini Green . The reality is it is more like 2 existing buildings in the neighborhood on Sheridan Road. 4645 houses seniors, and 4640 has lower income families (including many African & Caribbean immigrants). However, the Wilson Yards buildings are FAR SMALLER than the Sheridan Road buildings. And they will NOT be like Cabrini Green.

South Siders – how “true” do you think his/her assertions about travel, etc. are? Is it bad for housing to be built for lower income seniors & families to be built next to the El? How similar – or better or worse—would it be for something similar hear in the 6th ward or nearby?
You can weigh in over there, but expect to be attacked if you aren’t supporting their point of view.

If you post here on thesixthward, we just ask that you be respectful, and try to understand “the other side”.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gas falls to $1.79!!!

As i left Deerfield, gas had dropped slightly to $1.95

i was shocked as I got off of I-94 & 76th to see that our favorite BP had also dropped its price -- to $1.79 !!!!

Maybe they've been reading the blog, and have the comptetitive spirit. Clearly others have noticed -- there were several cars in line when I pulled up.

Come and get it -- I can't imagine it will stay that low through the Thanksgiving Day weekend!

Cameras are good -- at stopping up budget holes

A Daily Herald piece written by Mathew Hoffman who is a traffic-case attorney in both Lake and Cook counties who is opposed to stop-light cameras. Via The CapFax Monday morning shorts!

RCHA newsletter on the Con-Con

Well back in their October newsletter they urged their neighbors to vote NO on the Con-Con. Of course this referendum didn't win in the Sixth in any event:
This election Illinois voters will be asked to vote on weather the state should hold a Constitutional Convention (Con Con) to rewrite the Constitution. Vote NO, as this would threaten benefits like public employee pensions, would be costly to the tax payers and would further delay education funding reform and funding for public services.
In addition to that the Roseland Heights Community Association gave an overwheling endorsement to the now President-elect of the United States.

Swearing in ceremony for Justice John O. Steele

From the chairwoman of the 6th Ward Young Democrats:

THE HONORABLE JOHN O. STEELE WILL BE SWORN IN DECEMBER 1, 2008 (MONDAY) AT THE DALEY CENTER AT 9:00 A.M. (COURT ROOM 1905). This event will just last for 1/2 an hour.



Kari K. Steele

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rich Miller on the election of Cullerton State Senate President

Here's something from his syndicated column that I actually had no idea about:
Last Wednesday, one of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s most favored black Chicago activists held a press conference with a few Champaign-area ministers to pressure Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) to vote for Sen. James Clayborne for Senate President. But the specter of a Chicago-based Blagojevich ally traveling to Champaign to urge a local legislator to vote for an East St. Louis Senator who was privately backed by the horribly unpopular governor didn’t go over too well at the Statehouse.

“If that’s how Clayborne is campaigning for Senate President, how would he govern?” several Senate Democrats wondered.
Perhaps it's a good thing that downstater and black State Senator Clayborne didn't make it. Some might start to believe that he won't be much different than the now departing Emil Jones. Read the rest of Miller's syndicated column over the at the Capitol Fax.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gas Update for Sunday -- Get it NOW!!!

It's been a roller coaster the past couple of days.

On Friday, the lowest Chatham price was $1.99, but then the Deerfield stations along Lake Cook Road had matched that price.

While on Saturday, many other stations in Chatham still had gas in the $2.05- $2.09 range, it dropped to $1.99 Sunday morning, and this blog's favorite gas station, the BP at 76th & State, had it for $1.89

But then we stopped by after church, and that BP had dropped even further to $1.85! Now, i think the gas might go up in the next few days (due to Thanksgiving weekend, and the natural spike thar occurs for the holiday), so i would suggest filling up there NOW!

This price is BELOW the national AVERAGE of $1.929, accoding to CNN's latest report.

Interesting exchange on this blog

On Thursday I posted a link to the Broken Heart's post regarding Aldermanic salaries and the Alderman leaves some comments and Hugh also drops by to leave some comments as well . Hugh wrote that post over the the Broken Heart of Roger's Park.

I have been trying to figure out exactly where to go with this. All I can say for Hugh is that he's done his research and has nothing but questions. They are legitimate and perhaps those questions we should ask of our public officials. Obviously Hugh represents an element who is certainly not very happy with the state of affairs in the city of Chicago.

Hugh is clear in his comments and so is the Alderman and while I could comment on this exchange, instead I'll let the comments in that post speak for themselves.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Too Small to Fail

An article on small banks from the Washington Monthly:
When Paul Hudson, the chairman and CEO of Broadway Federal Bank in Los Angeles, speaks of the current financial crisis, he sounds altogether placid. "It’s going to be difficult, because everybody participated in this low-cost-credit, high-value-asset scenario," he says. "But I’m not overly stressed." It helps that his own bank is doing fine. Broadway Federal, founded in 1946 to provide loans to the growing African American community of Los Angeles, is a small institution with five branches located in middle-class, largely black neighborhoods of the city. It has eighty-four employees, assets of $390 million, and a loan portfolio divided more or less equally among single-family homes, apartment buildings, churches, commercial real estate, and small businesses.

Aesthetically, Broadway Federal’s branches are more evocative of 1972 than of 1946—copious concrete, cheap terrazzo, fluorescent lights, clunky logo. But in 2008, an old-fashioned look—even one from the ’70s—can be an advantage, for it suggests old-fashioned banking. While Broadway Federal may have been less adventurous or less profitable than some of its competitors over the past few years, today it enjoys the traditionalist’s compensation of being both sane and solvent. In fact, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Broadway enjoys a substantially higher return on equity and assets than J. P. Morgan does. (It also has a lower proportion of nonperforming loans.)

Broadway Federal’s story isn’t exceptional. Easily overlooked amid the crisis of big banks today, small-scale financial institutions are, for the most part, holding steady—and sometimes even better than steady. According to FDIC data, the failure rate among big banks (those with assets of $1 billion or more) is seven times greater than among small banks. Moreover, banks with less than $1 billion in assets—what are typically called community banks—are outperforming larger banks on most key measures, such as return on assets, charge-offs for bad loans, and net profit margin.

One reason community banks are doing so well right now is simply that they never became too clever for their own good. When other lenders, including underregulated giants like Ameriquest and Countrywide, started peddling ugly subprime mortgages, community banks stayed away. Banking regulations prevented them from taking on the kind of debt ratios assumed by their competitors, and ties to their customers and community ensured that predatory loans were out of the question. Broadway Federal, for its part, got out of single-family mortgages when they stopped making sense. "A borrower comes and asks, ‘Do you do interest-only, no-down-payment, option ARMs?’ " recalls Hudson, with a chuckle. "No!" The bank focused instead on expanding its reach to niche borrowers, such as local churches.

Today, however, even as many financial institutions are refusing credit, Broadway Federal quietly continues to extend it. One recent recipient was a nonprofit called the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley, which needed $40,000 as a bridge loan in the midst of state budget holdups. Nicole Shellcroft, the executive director of the center, says that no large bank had been willing to lend the money. Under the terms worked out with Broadway Federal, though, the domestic violence center was given a three-month loan for a fee of $900 in interest. "Our board was really happy with the terms," says Shellcroft. "It was actually better than a line of credit." Beyond offering special loans, Broadway has been attracting customers by being accommodating and personalized. "I can proudly take in my money daily, deposit it, and get access to my money directly," notes Angela Dean, founder of DeanZign, a local fashion company. Dean recently switched over from Washington Mutual to Broadway Federal for her business checking. She’s not alone. In 2007, before the crisis had properly struck, Broadway Federal experienced $7 million in net deposit growth. This year, as of June 30, says Hudson, net deposit growth was at $25 million.
Well, does anyone see a downgrade from the rampant mergers that we've seen in recent years. I hope we never see the type of lending activity that we have seen in the last few months. Perhaps the trend should go back to more traditional banking.

Via Instapundit!

Anti- Jim Houlihan Blog

Jim Houlihan - The Story of Corruption, Incompetence and Chaos

A blog talking about the Cook County Assessor. For some reason comments have been sent to this blog's email address.

Anyway have a read, what do you think about what you've seen over there? They seem to get plenty of comments.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Con-con voting in black wards

Even tho the Con-Con was defeated on Election Day, Ramsin Canon over at Mechanics has some analysis nestled in his latest post asking if Chicago is ready for reform. This analysis is according to the racial make-up of particular wards:
First, there is the Constitutional Convention vote from this past election. The Con Con was a good government issue in its most distilled form; a vote for the Con Con was a vote against the status quo. Given that there was little effective organized support for a "yes" vote and a well-financed disinformation campaign for a "no" vote, it is surprising that Chicago over-performed the rest of Illinois by 13 percent. Particularly considering that Illinois' entire power structure comes from Chicago — every constitutional officer, and both legislative leaders — that Chicagoans expressed a greater will for reform than the rest of the state indicates something.

"Yes" won eight wards: all of them majority black or Latino. A total of 18 wards came in within two and half points. All 16 are majority black or Latino. The First Ward, which is plurality Latino, was within six. The Yes vote's best white ward was the Lakefront liberally-est of them all, the 49th Ward, East Rogers Park. It went 53-46 against. But city-wide, only two wards didn't over-perform the state's yes vote: the 41st Ward, which is represented by the City Council's only Republican, and the old Machine's holdout ward, the far southwest side 19th. (Surprisingly, Mike Madigan's 13th Ward over-performed the state). Looking at suburban Cook County, the pattern holds; the strongest "Yes" townships Cicero, Calumet and Thornton, all three with large minority populations.

Is there a reasonable conclusion to draw from these results? One interpretation is that minority voters are ahead of a generational and demographic shift in the city electorate that is less constrained by traditional voting patterns and willing if not eager to remake the political establishment. This is amplified by the results of the 2007 aldermanic elections, which saw incumbents lose at a greater clip than they had in a decade. The Readers' Ben Joravsky, in a short exploration of the results of the Con Con vote, points out that only two thirds of voters who voted in the city even bothered to vote on the Con Con issue. Considering the lopsided spending of the two sides of the issue, and the heavy-hitters pushing for a No (not to mention the natural constituency the anti- forces had: pensioners), it is even more surprising that Chicago voters voted for reform at a greater rate than Illinoisans generally.

Second, though less compelling, are the results of the Forrest Claypool/John Stroger primary. In that case, we can expect black wards to have come in strong for Stroger, a pillar of the black political establishment in Chicago for a generation. Stroger also had the backing of the then-still-kind of popular governor and the nominal support of the mayor. But Stroger was utterly rejected at the polls in 17 wards, where he lost to Claypool by a 60-40 margin or worse — in 10 wards, the difference was 70-30 or greater. Overall, Claypool won 20 wards — including three majority or plurality Latino wards, and was competitive in another three, two of which are majority Latino. It is not possible to simply attribute Stroger's losses in these wards to voting along racial lines; of the "ethnic white" wards, Stroger won two and was competitive in two more.

Voting "Yes" on Con Con and voting for Claypool against Stroger are both acts of a sort of political leap of faith. In both cases, voters were acting more as a rejection of the status quo than in support of a positive alternative. They were willing to invite the unknown out of disgust with what they saw.
Looking at the totals for the 6th on the Con-Con I didn't see anything resembling over performance.In fact the Con-Con lost bad in the 6th having only won about 42% of the vote.

I see it won in these black wards the 3rd, 15th, 16th, & 20th. In other wards well the vote was very close but lost in the 7th, 17th, 28th, & 37th wards.You can check citywide results here. Just realized it'll take you to a page for online results go under "Select the Contest from the List Box Below - November, 2008 General" then click on the down arrow and look for "Proposed Call Convention".

If Quinn was successful in his lawsuit in challenging these results even if the defeat was resounding outside of Chicago, I wonder if it was possible to flip certain groups to the cause?

Democrats pick Cullerton as new state Senate president

I know this news is going to be published two days after the fact, but my mouth fell open when I saw this. It looks like they're keeping everything in Chicago. Clout St:
State Sen. John Cullerton, a veteran lawmaker from Chicago’s North Side, was chosen tonight by fellow Democrats to become the next president of the Illinois Senate. He will succeed retiring Emil Jones, who had been the staunchest legislative ally of embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Cullerton, whose political roots began as a loyal deputy to frequent Blagojevich nemesis House Speaker Michael Madigan, was chosen unanimously on the second ballot during a closed-door meeting of the Senate Democrats’ caucus at a Springfield hotel. Cullerton defeated Sen. James Clayborne of Belleville after weeks of intensive lobbying.

"It was very contentious for the last few months, but everybody came together and it's really been a great, humbling feeling," Cullerton said.

He offered to be a bridge between his fellow Chicagoans, Madigan and Blagojevich, saying "we are going to try to bring those two guys together."
Well we can only watch and see.

Hearing on LSC lawsuit delayed

Chi-Town Daily News:
A court hearing in the long-running legal battle over appointment of local school council members at several Chicago campuses has been postponed.

Representatives of Chicago Public Schools and a group that includes several local school council members and Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) were supposed to appear in court yesterday for arguments in the case.

The hearing was moved to Dec. 22.

The plaintiffs say Chicago Public Schools broke state law by switching from elected local school councils to appointed ones at Orr High School campus, Carver Military Academy and some other city schools.

U.S. Attorney says jail not enough to stem violence

We hear from Patrick Fitzgerald in the Lake Count News-Sun:
"We may think we can prosecute and incarcerate our way to a less violent society, but it is going to take more than that."

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said that Tuesday in his speech to the Lake County Bar Association at Greenbelt Forest Preserve.

Fitzgerald said public corruption gets all the headlines -- Tony Rezko, former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak and Republican power broker Bill Cellini -- and violence gets far fewer.

"People are tired of worrying about guns, gangs and drugs, but people are imprisoned in their own homes, afraid to go out even in the middle of the afternoon," he said.

"And some people believe if you just hire enough police officers, you can prosecute and incarcerate our way out of it," said Fitzgerald, attorney for the Northern Illinois District.

But there is another way, even though law enforcement is part of the solution, an important one. And it has to do with programs like Jobs for Youths. He said looking at the numbers concerning gang problems in Chicago is invaluable.

The latest estimates is there are 70,000 to 100,000 gang members. The Chicago Police Department has 13,000 officers. They only work five days a week and eight hours a day, whereas the gang banger, from the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed, may shoot someone.
WOW!!! The police is understaffed compared to the gangs. If only there was an answer to keep these kids out of gangs other than worrying about incarceration.

I certainly hope that Fitzgerald can stay on for a long as he wishes.

Article via Newsalert!

Brookins still wants a Wal-Mart

This post yesterday (new link - from Clout City offers this blog a plug. Anyway Alderman Howard Brookins who represents the neighborhing 21st Ward is still talking about that Wal-Mart that was supposed to be located in his ward on 83rd Street...
“Out of all the retail stores, all of their profits are down except for Wal-Mart, whose third-quarter profits are up 10 percent,” Brookins said. He noted that Wal-Mart stores are thriving in suburbs that border on Chicago and cited studies estimating that tens of millions of dollars in spending and potential tax revenues were “leaking” out of the city. “Six hundred people could be employed right there in my community. Six hundred people!” he said. “As the economic times get worse, we will continue to see an increase in crime, and it’s already happened in a lot of our wards—we’ve seen an increase in garage burglaries; we’ve seen an increase in stick-ups and robberies. Until that trend turns around it’s unfortunate that we’re going to have to brace for the worst. But we can stop or prevent a little bit of that leakage.

“Had that Wal-Mart passed in our ward the city would have had an additional $21 million, by my estimate, by today’s date. Sixty-four million dollars would be spent with union tradesmen–plumbers, pipe-fitters, electricians, carpenters, right now, when the city of Chicago is experiencing a 29 percent decrease in commercial building starts.

“There’s been an unprecedented spirit of cooperation with the unions and the city to come up with new ideas so we would not have to lay off a bunch of city workers. I implore you to come up with that same creative idea, with labor and Wal-Mart, so that we can put people to work. Unfortunately this train is not going to turn around anytime soon, and the only sure bet I know in the 21st Ward to employ 600 people immediately is that retail store who still wants to come to the 21st Ward in the city of Chicago.”

The reaction to his remarks was minimal—except for Mell, who followed up with an appeal for a casino, and powerful finance committee chairman Ed Burke, who said Wal-Mart workers should be able to organize, no other aldermen responded on the floor. In an interview later, Brookins said a few others approached him afterward and complimented him. He's now thinking about talking with the potential developers of the project and, if they're on board, introducing a new request for approval in the council.
Can't argue with these revenue projections. Not that anyone should be under the illusion that having a second Wal-Mart in Chicago would solve the city's budget crunch.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gas wars continue -- revenge of the suburbs? Under $2!

Wednesday Morning:

Gas Prices range from $2.13 (BP at 76th & State, of course) to $2.15

When I get to Deerfield -- it's $2.09!!! It's finally cheaper than Chatham! So i thought it was the end of Chatham's reign as Chicago's gas bargain central.

But then I get back Wednesday evening...BP at 76th & State has dropped to $1.99!!! That is UNDER $2!!!

Now, other stations are at mixed levels ($2.05, $215)...but a great sign for us!

I can't believe it's under $2! We haven't seen that in even the Chicago suburbs in 3 1/2 years!

Will it last? I don't know...but i am thanking God for what we have!

Let's see what tomorrow brings!

City Council passes Daley's 2009 budget

Mayor Daley’s $6 billion 2009 budget — precariously balanced with 635 or fewer layoffs, slow police hiring and $52.5 million worth of taxes, fines and fees — sailed through the City Council Wednesday amid concern about even tougher times ahead.

The final vote was 49-1 after a two-hour debate. Last year, a Daley budget that included a record $276.5 million in tax and fee increases, including the largest property tax increase in Chicago history, drew 13 dissenting votes.

"Is this problem over yet? Absolutely not," said Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th), warning that the worst financial crisis of Daley’s 20-year reign "will get worse before it gets better."

"I’m concerned about the revenue projections in this budget and whether they are realistic…What tricks do we have up our sleeve next year?" said Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), warning that "nickel and dime" tax and fee increases won’t cut it.

With an unreserved corporate fund balance of just $1.5 million, Chicago has precious little wiggle room.
Clout City has Ald. Lyle on record about the recently passed city budget...
Sixth Ward alderman Freddrenna Lyle described it as a “bad-news budget” but said the council had fought for and won important revisions since the mayor introduced it last month. “We’ve done our homework,” she said. But the Fourth Ward’s Toni Preckwinkle didn’t think she and her colleagues had done enough homework. She called for an additional week of budget hearings next year. “How can we run through 40 departments in two weeks?” she asked. “I don’t think it leads to a very thoughtful process.”
Clout St did a live blog. I wasn't able to do a live blog but I was at least able to watch a few minutes of the City Council meeting yesterday thru the City Clerk website.

Annual Aldermanic Salary Survey

The Broken Heart of Roger's Park celebrates four years of activism looking at Aldermanic salaries.

Health care costs to rise 6.5% in '09 for local employers: survey

Chicago-area employers are girding for a 6.5% rise in health-benefit costs next year, even as many companies shift more of the cost increases to workers, according to a survey released Wednesday.

About 40% of the 104 local employers polled said they were requiring workers to cover a greater portion of their health-insurance premiums in 2009, according to the survey by Mercer, a New York-based human resources consultancy. About one-quarter said they were boosting co-payments, deductibles or out-of-pocket limits for employees.

Without those increases, the 6.5% overall cost for local employers would have been 7.7%, said Kristen Stagaman, a Chicago-based principal at Mercer.

The local figures are taken from Mercer’s national survey of nearly 2,900 public and private employers (all with at least 10 workers). The expected 2009 cost increase for local companies is in line with the 6.4% national average.

At the very end of this article info about Health Savings Accounts:
That deductible refers to traditional PPO plans — not plans that are required to carry a high deductible because they are attached to a tax-advantaged Health Savings Account, first introduced in 2004.

“The introduction of the HSA may have changed employers’ thinking on just how high a deductible can go without causing significant employee pushback,” Ms. Stagaman said. “It’s an easier way to reduce cost without taking more out of every employee’s paycheck.”
Now the question that this article doesn't address. Why the increase?

Just charge it: CTA to offer more ways to pay with plastic

This story from the Trib sounds good to me.:
In a society addicted to buying on credit, the Chicago Transit Authority is hoping to cash in big time.

A "smart" version of those credit cards and bank debit cards stuffed in your wallet will be accepted for payment of CTA bus and train fares in about a year, transit officials told the Tribune on Tuesday.

The card, which will contain a computer chip that allows the user to pay for rides on the CTA, Pace and other participating transit systems, is otherwise a standard credit or a debit card that can be used at all other businesses where it is currently accepted.

"You tap the card against the card reader and get on the CTA. It removes the barrier of having to get our type of fare [card]," CTA President Ron Huberman said.

But the big story is the money. Bank and credit card companies have competed vigorously in Asia and other parts of the world for a piece of the transit market because the all-in-one card usually ends up being stored at the top of consumers' wallets, so it can be withdrawn easily and often for all kinds of purchases. The companies hope that the added usefulness of their cards will bring them more customers who will use the cards more frequently.

For the CTA rider, the smart cards are billed as being all about the convenience. Consumers ultimately will be able to carry one card to cover just about any expense, from lattes to laundry bills, airfares to Frankfurt and subway rides to Clark and Division Streets, proponents of the cards say.
Someone ought to pitch this idea to Seaway Bank.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Blue Carts are coming!

Awesome! From this month's Aldermanic newsletter which also gleeful over the election of Chicago's own Barack Obama as President of the United States:
Blue Cart recycling is finally coming to the 6th Ward in November 2008. Attend an information meeting in your community to learn more about:

  • The new recycling program

  • Find out what materials are recyclable

  • Learn about resources for safe disposal of nonrecyclable materials

  • Find out when your recyclables will be picked up

  • Find out what happens to the materials you recycle

  • Sign up to be a Recycling Block Captain

  • Meeting dates and locations as follows:
    Mon., Nov. 10, 7 p.m., Washington Park, 5531 S. King
    Thurs., Nov. 13, 6:30 p.m. at Coleman Library, 731 E. 63rd St.
    Mon., Nov. 17, 7:00 p.m. at Whitney Young Library 7901 S. King Dr.
    Tues., Nov. 18, 7 p.m., Tuley Park, 501 E. 90th Pl.

    Call 312-744-5702 or visit

    Local biz titans see little econ improvement ahead

    Business leaders are confident that the economy isn’t going to pick up anytime soon, but they are less certain that it won’t get worse.

    “It’s an unprecedented time,” said Thomas Pritzker, chairman of Global Hyatt Corp. “The guess is how deep of a recession and is it going to be a depression.”

    He shared that perspective Wednesday at a discussion sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and moderated by former Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Michael Moskow.

    Mr. Pritzker was joined by Gordon Segal, chairman and founder of Crate and Barrel, and Thomas Wilson, CEO of Allstate Corp. The group was cautious about predicting the future and stymied in providing a solution to goose the economy.

    “It’s above my pay grade,” Mr. Pritzker said.
    Also from Crain's, Sara Lee plant on the South Side to close.

    Clean Slate, 79th St, Chicago

    Another vid from the adjacent neighborhood, Auburn-Gresham, by YoChicago filmed in spring 2007...
    Watch the elevator pitch for this enthusiastic crew of south side street cleaners and recyclers.

    Panel seeks property tax changes

    Tribune has news on proposals made by Mayor Daley yesterday:
    -- Expanding the state's "circuit breaker" program to give more property tax relief to seniors and the needy.

    -- Providing taxpayers with greater education about real estate sales and taxes.

    One issue the panel singled out for further study: Reassessing properties annually, as opposed to triennially, so tax bills take into effect market forces such as the recent decline in home values.

    Daley's $6 billion budget proposal for 2009 calls for raising many taxes and fees, but the city will not increase the property tax, which was boosted a record amount a year ago. The City Council is expected to adopt the budget on Wednesday.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Our sorry state

    The CapFax has a roundup of economic news from around the state.

    Chicago school-funding protest spurs unexpected friendship

    Another item on the educational beat from the Trib:
    With grins and a familiar nod, a dozen teenagers came together this weekend for what has become a standing date since nearly 1,000 Chicago students skipped classes and tried to enroll in two North Shore schools to protest the financial disparity in Illinois public education.

    Students from New Trier High School and several South Side schools have met weekly in a quiet corner of a Chicago library to chip away at the funding predicament that has stymied Illinois lawmakers for years.

    They dubbed themselves the Illinois Council of Students, recruited peers to the cause and created an online presence to drum up interest.

    And along the way, they became friends.

    "From the moment we shook hands, we hit it off," Morgan Park High School senior Brandon Saunders said of New Trier senior Matt McCambridge. They met during the rally that followed the Sept. 2 boycott led by state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago). "That night, we were on Facebook talking and everything."

    The students recognize theirs is an improbable friendship, an unexpected outcome of an adult-led political action. They say such an unlikely beginning makes them determined to guard their personal ties and to add their voices to talks of how money is divided among Illinois schools. Students in the Harold Washington Library Center Sunday debated what role to assign adult advisers.

    "Adults have worked on this for so long. But students have never worked on it really at all. So we hope . . . students coming in and saying we really do need a better education system will have an impact," said McCambridge, the council president.
    I hope that they can consider not only the funding of public school, but other issues that are just as important such as for instance accountability. I would expect no one would want to throw money at any school district that fails to get their job done educating students. That has to be a very important issue.

    New state senate president may soon be decided

    Democrats who control the Illinois Senate will try to pick a new leader Wednesday in what has become a mostly two-person duel for one of the most powerful positions in the Statehouse.

    State Sens. John Cullerton of Chicago and James Clayborne of Belleville are the frontrunners in the internal battle, which was touched off by the pending retirement of Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago.

    The duo will take center stage at a closed-door meeting of senators at a Springfield restaurant tonight.

    State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, is among a handful of senators who have not publicly pledged their votes to one particular candidate.

    “I’ve got a really tough decision to make,” Jacobs said Tuesday “I have not sworn my allegiance. My vote could be key.”

    State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, also wasn’t tipping his hand to a favorite Tuesday. He said Cullerton and Clayborne are busy trying to round up votes among the 37 Democrats who comprise the 59-member Senate.

    “They are going at it day and night,” Forby said.

    Both Clayborne and Cullerton emerged as top picks after an election season that saw them spread hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Democratic candidates hoping to seal up support for their leadership bids.
    My hope is that downstater Clayborne takes the position. My main idea is that Chicago has most of the state offices from Governor to Speaker of the IL State House. Let's see downstate represented in the leadership dynamics in Springfield especially in a prominent position.

    David Axelrod disgusted with Gov. Blagojevich

    Axelrod who is Obama's political operative and article is from Newsweek found via The CapFax:
    To Axelrod, the romantic who read old Bobby Kennedy speeches for fun, this was the sort of transformation that he (along with a lot of '60s liberals) had spent his whole life dreaming about. At the time of that meeting with the Obamas in 2006, Axelrod had been "so disgusted with the state of politics, so disillusioned—we were about to elect a governor [Rod Blagojevich], he was an old client of mine and a friend, but he was disappointing—I wanted to be involved in something that reminded me of why I got into this work in the first place," he recalled. On Sunday, Oct. 19, Axelrod had been lying alone on his hotel bed watching "Meet the Press" when Colin Powell movingly endorsed Obama. Axelrod had thrust his fist in the air and became choked up.
    This is a good article in spite of the Blagojevich reference. If you look above you see that Barack Obama knew what this election meant if he had been successful. Of course we know now that he was indeed successful.

    Earn A's, B's, get free college

    This sounds like a plan. I know they can't do it for everybody, but if we can start early on getting students thinking about college then perhaps they can start now and build up their skills needed for success. Sun-Times:
    For 22 sixth-graders from Bellwood, it's the chance -- and challenge -- of a lifetime: If they can get all A's and B's throughout middle school and high school, stay out of trouble and graduate, they'll earn a college scholarship worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to Concordia University in River Forest.

    Fifth Third Bank is sponsoring the program, which includes free tuition, room, board and books at Concordia, where tuition is nearly $30,000. It's likely to cost substantially more when these kids start college, around 2015, though Concordia plans to offer a steep discount.

    The students will get laptops loaded with learning software and will have access to free tutoring from students and faculty at Concordia, mentors, free summer-school courses and even paid summer jobs. And their parents can attend courses in financial fitness at Fifth Third Bank.

    The program is the idea of Tom Jandris, Concordia's graduate school dean, and Terry Zinc, former president of Fifth Third Bank in Chicago, now a top national officer of the bank. Jandris said they wanted to help students from a low-income, diverse area go to college.

    "We are trying to create a lighthouse effect, where the interventions will ripple out across the district and hopefully the nation," he said.
    Let's hope these kids make it and I sincerely hope that even if they don't make As and Bs they might still want to go to college, even if it's not Concordia. When they do make it to college, I hope they're as successful as they are in elementary or secondary school.

    Via Capitol Fax morning shorts!

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Ill. partners with

    The partnership announced Monday will give job seekers real-time access to openings in the four industries with the largest growth in the state. Research has identified those industries as: health care, information technology, manufacturing and transportation, and distribution and logistics.

    The CareerBuilder jobs site can be accessed through the state's employment Web site,

    According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois' unemployment rate for September was 6.9%. That's compared with 6.1% nationally.

    Low turnout for Obama in Chicago's black wards

    From Chi-Town Daily News:
    Alderman Emma Mitts worked hard in the days before the presidential election to ensure that citizens in her West Side ward would take advantage of the opportunity to vote for the country's first black president.

    She encouraged constituents to participate in early voting, and pushed a ride-sharing program to make sure transportation difficulties didn't keep people from casting their ballot.

    Even so, turnout in her majority black ward was lower than the city average, and less than during the 2004 presidential election. Her ward is not unique.

    Despite the popular perception that Sen. Barack Obama won the presidency on a tidal wave of enthusiasm in the African-American community, turnout in Chicago's majority black wards was lower than in other wards, according to a Daily News analysis of voting data.

    In majority black wards, 72 percent of registered voters turned out. In other wards, 74 percent voted.

    "I want to know who didn't go out and vote," she says. "That's going to be my mission if it takes me until the next election," she says.
    Read the whole thing!

    CTA station naming rights?

    Jon Hilkevitch:
    The Chicago Transit Authority is negotiating with potential corporate sponsors for naming rights at some rail stations as a way to bring in new revenue.
    Well this is the only paragraph about that, but it's in a column talking about the Illinois Department of Transportation offering naming rights for tollways and highways. There must be some serious desperation for cash here.

    I wonder who might we want to own naming rights for 6th Ward L stops.

    At 87th we could offer naming right to Home Depot, Loew's, Best Buy, or even Target. 79th could have Northern Trust. I couldn't tell you who should buy naming rights to both 69th and 95th. It would be nice if some local companies took advantage of this like Seaway or WVON for instance.

    If we still had Soft-Sheen or Johnson Products in the neighborhood I think they should have a shot as well!

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Follow the blog

    The widget is just under the weather. Or I can send you to this link. The only pre-requisite is that you have a Google/Blogger account. Yes I said it that way because Google owns the Blogger service. All the same if you like this blog and you consider yourself a fan then do us a favor and follow this blog. Thank you.

    Mom rips CPS for no visit after son's death

    A day after her teenage son drowned in a boating accident during a school trip, Sharon Gowdy lashed out at Chicago Public Schools for failing to send any officials to her West Side home to inform her of her son's death, offer condolences or explain what happened.

    Jimmy Avant, 18, and two classmates, Adrian Jones, 16, and Melvin Choice III, 17, were among 31 high-achieving students from North Lawndale College Prep -- a CPS charter high school -- attending a retreat in McHenry County.

    They sneaked out about 1 a.m. Friday and took paddle boats onto the Fox River, but did not realize plugs under the boats had been removed to prepare them for winter. The boats started to sink, and the teens drowned.

    On Saturday, Gowdy said no officials from the public school system or its charter that her son attended had visited her home.

    CPS officials admitted Saturday that was true but said that after speaking with Gowdy by phone Friday, a counselor did not feel she was ready for a visit.
    "I trusted those people with my son, and they let him die. They don't have the decency to come here and say they were sorry," the distraught mother said.

    A CPS spokesman said Avant's counselor at North Lawndale College Prep had placed a call to the family, and that Principal Robert Karpinski left a message to see if he could stop by, but didn't hear back.
    I was going to call this story messed up, but it looks more like a misunderstanding. Although I'll have to agree with the mother someone should have visited her home. Also Duncan plans to visit this family today.

    You can read another perspective on this tragedy over at the McHenry County Blog authored by a former Illinois State Representative and former Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate, Cal Skinner. He also blogs at Illinoize.

    I Hate My Developer: Post election reflections

    I'm quite late in posting this but I want to share this post with you. Surely a lot of you were elated with Sen. Obama's victory in the Presidential race over a week ago. This post should put some things into perspective if nothing else. Here's an excerpt that connected with me:
    While he serves as an inspiration of what hard work and determination can do, he is not the only Black person who can achieve in this country.

    Let me reiterate that point: He is not the only Black person who can achieve in this country.

    I’m not sure why some of us need this stunning example to underscore this point but hey---whatever works.

    You don’t have to give me that look---I know the deck is stacked but like President Elect Obama you’ve got to be three times as good (Read: Extremely Qualified) and run a tight campaign.

    Oh yeah---and build a coalition.

    On that note I just want to put a few things for your consideration on the table:

    Can we start respecting each other and the places where we live just a little bit more? Picking up trash really doesn’t take too much time, really.

    Is it possible that we could stop killing and poisoning one another? When I say poisoning I mean drugs and drug dealing.

    Now here’s the tough one---Can we start holding community and elected leaders accountable for their actions?

    Since Black people were usually on the short end of the stick when it came to inclusion in this country, it seems like we fell for the heady promise of someone who happened to look like us being in power.

    From Hatcher in Gary, to Coleman in Detroit, to Barry in D.C.----dreams were realized but at a heavy cost.

    Each of those leaders had the best of intentions, but reality was quite a different kettle of fish.

    Black folks were a little new to the game. We didn’t know 40 years ago that you have to build coalitions in order to preserve the tax base which in turns pays for the cops, the fireman and the teachers.

    But we know that now.
    Go over there and read the entire post by the Woodlawn Wonder!

    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    Aldermen ring up $40K from circus

    Some elephant ordinance has been in the news the past couple or so weeks. This Sun-Times article is a natural extension of that:
    Feld Entertainment -- the producer of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus -- is represented by lobbyist Timothy Dart, the brother of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Timothy Dart, his wife, Jennifer, his law partner John Nicolay and their law firm, Nicolay & Dart, have contributed $13,100 to aldermen and their ward organizations since 2004, $4,000 of that to Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th), Illinois State Board of Elections records show.

    Sources said Burke played a behind-the-scenes role in engineering the City Council delay.

    Feld has given a total of $1,250 to the campaign funds of key alderman -- $750 to Burke and $500 to Cochran.

    Universal Circus has made campaign contributions of $30,600, $18,000 of that to the 20th Ward Regular Democratic Organization now under Cochran's control.
    Sometimes it pays to be on the right side I suppose. Then again should a legislator have to paid or rewarded for their stand? Maybe I'm just naieve.

    More from this article about the ordinance:
    Smith's proposal was watered down by aldermen scared off by the ridicule that followed Chicago's now-repealed ban on foie gras. Then it was delayed at last week's City Council meeting at the behest of Aldermen Willie Cochran (20th) and Emma Mitts (37th).

    It's set for another vote this week -- on the day after Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus opens its two-week run at the United Center.

    In delaying the vote, Cochran said he was concerned that a ban on the use of chains and restraining devices that Smith wants could end up depriving elephants of sleep and, as a result, endangering circus patrons.
    "These are necessary tools for the humane and proper management and care of our elephants," Payne said of the tools Smith wants to ban. "They're integral to the care, transport and well-being of our animals. As the legislation is written, it would no longer allow us to perform in Chicago, which would be unfortunate. We want to play in the city of Chicago."
    Oh this is just another half-baked ordinance. There are always two sides to the story.

    I'm for the human treatment of animals, but I just called this half-baked because I'm not so sure if this was thought out. A lot of these ordinances like the big-box or the foie-gras ban it just seems like an attention getting.

    Not too long ago over at Mechanics I blogged about a ban on ice-cream trucks in the 18th ward. The idea was that the alderman was concerned that there was some illegal transaction going on in these trucks. She didn't start an investigation or nothing she just decided it was better to ban ice cream trucks. It becomes a slippery slope after a while doesn't it?

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Gas Price update - Some news!

    It seemed Wednesday afternoon that gas prices in Deerfield were catching up (or rather down) to Chatham, matching $2.39 both here and up there.

    But as of Friday morning, Chatham prices were $2.27-$2.29 along State and down E. 79th.
    Lake Cook Road had $2.33 - $2.39

    Hope this race to the bottom continues...If I am reading my records right, gas prices are at their lowest since at least 2 years ago!

    UPDATE: -- Friday evening, at the BP at 76th & State. gas was $2.18! That is NOT a typo! Save some cash & buy in the neighborhood!

    Con on the con-con

    I was diasappointed to find out last week that the Con-Con referendum was defeated heavily in Illinois. It would be suspected that it had something to do with the approved Con-Con question and the remedy to correct the original question that seemed biased. The remedy being that the corrected question was to be handed on a flyer.

    The reason for that was more or less economical. When that ruling came down from Cook County Circuit Court the idea was certainly to use the ballots that were already printed. The idea was that it might be expensive or indeed cutting it too close to just print new ballots with the corrected and improved question.

    Well there might have been a number of reasons for it's absolute defeat at the polls. Perhaps the people of Illinois wasn't ready to make any revisions. Of course that's not to say there aren't those who are still whining about it. There could be another lawsuit because of the results although there are those who will say that's not likely because of how the results aren't even close.

    Either way I want to point out this post from Clout City about the Con-Con vote in Chicago...
    The referendum lost statewide, so there will be no convention, thus ending my never-really-existed political career.

    In Chicago it wasn't so much that it lost -- which it did -- but that relatively few people bothered to vote one way or another. Citywide, roughly 66 percent of the voters who took a ballot voted on the referendum.

    The I-couldn't-care-less-one-way-or-the-other totals were particularly high in the 14th Ward (76 percent), the 12 th Ward (70 percent) and the 15th Ward (69 percent).

    I know that vote totals generally fall with referendum questions, if for no other reason than that they're buried at the bottom of the ballot, beneath all those freaking judges. But this issue had draw considerable media attention -- it was the subject of rallies and ads both pro and con. And the vote came as poll after poll showed that voters in Illinois and Chicago are hugely dissatisfied with the general drift of politics in state government. So you'd figure folks would at least venture an opinion on things.

    By the way, the "no" vote was highest in southwest- and northwest-side wards, most likely because seniors on fixed income in those parts didn't trust the convention delegates -- whoever they might be -- to convene without somehow or other mucking up their pensions.
    Well it had to boil down to the pensions. Well for many reasons the pensions aren't doing well in this state. They are said to be underfunded anyway, yet those who were in the employ of state government still expect theirs. It's probably another issue that could use some work.

    Of course pensions probably aren't the only reason we're not going to have a con-con in 2010. There are those who didn't believe that the state constitution didn't need to be changed and it had nothing to do with pensions. Either way if anyone believes in reform in Illinois, it's going to be an uphill battle, unfortunately.

    CTA approves a reduced fare hike

    Well there are some changed to the CTA's plan to raise fares. Of course this was after the news that the plan to vote on next year's CTA budget was pushed back to Thursday. Here's a report on what happened at Thursday's Board Meeting from the AP:
    The Chicago Transit Authority's board has approved a 15% fare increase.

    The increase that takes effect on Jan. 1 is 5% less than the CTA's president requested.

    Chairman Carole Brown says the board stopped short of a 20% increase on Thursday "to provide some relief" to customers.
    A common thread in any story about this fare increase is that the Governor is largely to blame for the CTA having to increase fares. That whole senior citizens free rides business and then cutting state money for that from the state budget.

    Oh yeah why did the CTA push back the vote on the budget to Thursday anyway? CTA Tattler says:
    But the board pushed back the meeting by a day because they were concerned they hadn't met the requirement to post the meeting agenda two days in advance.

    The meeting notice had been posted two days in advance at the meeting room as required, but not on the Web site. "Because this is an important vote, the Board did not want to risk proceeding if there was a question as to whether the meeting notice requirements were handled properly," said a CTA spokesperson.

    Now that was some smart thinking on the part of the board. But it delays the inevitable by just one day.
    Here's more on the fare hike from the CTA via Going Public. I'd rather they kept the 10% bonus on the Chicago Card. Oh and for that CTA file, you will need adobe acrobat.

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Obama will resign Senate seat Sunday

    President-elect Barack Obama said today he will step down from his Senate seat effective this Sunday.

    The decision adds to the pressure on Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a fellow Democrat, who under state law has the sole responsibility for naming a successor to Obama, the only African-American in the Senate.

    “It has been one of the highest honors and privileges of my life to have served the people of Illinois in the United States Senate," Obama said in a statement today.

    "In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who’ve taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children’s future," Obama said. "It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation’s next President.”

    Illinois foreclosure activity jumps in October

    In Illinois, 12,681 homes got a foreclosure-related notice last month, up 24.3 percent from September and up 31.1 percent from October 2007, according to RealtyTrac.

    More than 84,000 properties were repossessed in the U.S. in October, RealtyTrac said.

    A nasty brew of strict lending standards, falling home values and a tough economy is filtering through the housing market. By the end of the year, the company expects more than a million bank-owned properties to have piled up on the market, representing around a third of all properties for sale in the U.S.

    CPS scores up, but kids aren't ready for college

    I want to do a schools post soon, but this is something worth noting with regards to our schools. What can be done? Sun-Times:
    The average eighth-grader who easily passed the state math test later scored only a 17.5 on the ACT college entrance exam, the consortium found. That's far below Chicago's districtwide goal of 20, a relatively low score but one that gives a student a shot at minimally competitive colleges. The top ACT score is 36.

    Only those students who exceeded state standards had a good chance of getting a 20 on the ACT, the consortium found after tracking 40,000 CPS eighth-graders who took the state math test and then went on to take the ACT between 2005 and 2007.

    This finding confirms a disconnect many educators and observers have raised over the last several years: While elementary school test scores have gone way up, scores on the state high school test, which includes the ACT, have stagnated. In Chicago, ACT scores are up significantly since 2001, but this year's 17.6 average is still well below state and national averages.
    Also from the Sun-Times, CPS gives students a voice on the drop-out problem:
    Concerned about a 55 percent high school graduation rate, Chicago Public School kids spent 1½ years trying to figure out what to do about it, including visiting 12 standout high schools nationwide.

    "It turned my life around,'' said Roosevelt High junior Edwin Medina, who was toying with dropping out until he joined Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, or VOYCE, and visited five top-rated schools in Texas.

    "I learned students are part of the answer to lowering the dropout rate. We're taking a problem that affects us and finding a solution.''
    Read the whole article. Apparently schools CEO Arne Duncan is announcing student-led reforms in eight pilot high schools. Sounds good.

    Both articles via, The Capitol Fax morning shorts.

    Democrats dine to figure out Jones' successor

    Because Obama is now the President-elect there's a lot of jockeying going around. Of course the title of this post refers to the jockeying for Senate President. Of course this position opened up well before Obama's election as POTUS. Here's an update from Clout St:
    The lawmakers are entertaining themselves at an Italian restaurant as they attempt to put together the ground rules for choosing a successor.

    It's sounds like it should be easy, but they don't do it very often.

    Jones has led the Senate Democrats when they were the minority party in the 1990s and on through their majority party tenure since 2003. The 37-22 majority is historic because no Democratic caucus has had that many Senate members since at least the 1880s, if ever, according to available records.

    The number of candidates who want to step into the presidency is in flux, but Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Sen. James Clayborne (D-Belleville) are the two frontrunners.
    This caught my eye reading the blog about Jesse Jr.'s chances for Obama's Senate seat. Actually this is old news to you if you read the Capitol Fax blog yesterday...
    This is spun as favorable news for Jackson, but I'm not so certain; having the support of 21 percent of Illinoisans is hardly a rousing consensus.

    In addition, we probably have to account for name recognition, since most of these candidates are pretty obscure. The Zogby poll says that 65 percent of Illinoisans are familiar with Jackson, so one way to read these numbers is that 32 percent of Illinoisans who know of Jackson have him as their top choice. By contrast, Tammy Duckworth's name recognition is just 40 percent. Among Illinoisans who are familiar with Duckworth, 35 percent have her as their top choice, a slightly larger fraction than Jackson.

    Well Jesse Jackson isn't likely to go to the US Senate, but if there is an outside chance that he does, then who might replace him in the 2nd Congressional District. That district being my congressional district. Perhaps 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson?

    BTW, Clout City has a few comments about Jackson campaign to be the new junior senator from Illinois.

    If Jackson isn't likely to be Obama's replacement then it wouldn't matter if someone decided to speculate on who could replace him. Almost similar to what happened to Bobby Rush as he underwent treatment for cancer earlier this year. But speculation can be fun can't it?

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Altgeld Gardens residents proud of Obama victory

    Significant because Altgeld Gardens is located in the neighboring 9th Ward all the way down the southern city limits from The Windy Citizen:
    Residents of Altgeld Gardens – a sprawling public housing development on the Far South Side – woke up Wednesday morning to a changed America: A man who devoted several years to improving their community will be the next president of the United States.

    “It’s like I’m in a dream,” said Alice Atwater, 64, who doesn’t live in Altgeld but was picking up her grandchildren from school there Wednesday afternoon.

    As a young college graduate, Barack Obama organized residents in Altgeld Gardens, a neighborhood of predominantly African-American residents that lies between the Calumet River and one of Chicago’s largest landfills.

    For long-time community members who often feel that the area is ignored, the thought of a president who is familiar with the expansive blocks of two-story row houses seemed too good to be true.

    Fare hike vote rescheduled to tomorrow

    Very, very interesting from Chi-Town Daily News:
    The Chicago Transit Authority board postponed its scheduled vote today on a proposed fare hike.

    The board's meeting has been rescheduled to 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake. The meeting is open to the public. Officials did not say why it was rescheduled.

    CTA board votes Wednesday on fare hikes

    Chi-Town Daily News:
    Threatened fare increases could become reality Wednesday when the Chicago Transit Authority board votes on its proposed 2009 budget.

    The CTA’s budget calls for an increase of at least a quarter to ride the cities buses and trains beginning in January, and the cost of a 30-day pass would to rise to $90 from $75. Discounts for Chicago Card users would be eliminated, as well.

    The CTA’s budget for 2009 is $1.324 billion, up 9.5 percent from its 2008 budget of $1.209 billion. The CTA’s budget shortfall is pegged at $42.2 million, and both CTA President Ron Huberman and board Chair Carole Brown have said fare increases would plug the hole without forcing the agency to cut services.

    Agency officials say the budget does not divert cash needed for physical improvements to the system to pay for operations.The board will vote on the budget during a 10 a.m. meeting Wednesday at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake. The meeting is open to the public.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Delivered the most and least amount of votes for Obama

    From the Beachwood Reporter with the neighboring 21st Ward giving Obama the most amount of votes and the 12th Ward giving Obama the least amount of votes. Assuming that this is for only Chicago city wards.

    There are some other tidbits from last weeks election as well. McCain was competitive in the 41st Ward on the northwest side of town, but in the neighboring 17th, McCain only had 95 votes. No big surprise right?

    Chicago Teachers Twelve Votes Away from City-Wide Protest

    Story courtesy of the new politics blog from Gaper's Block, Mechanics:
    On Wednesday, November 5, at the delegate meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union, members were twelve votes shy of a majority to protest the upcoming announcement of another round of massive teachers firings. The motion, proposed by Jackson Potter, member of the reform caucus of the Chicago Teachers Union, CORE (The Caucus of Rank-and-File-Educators) read as follows:

    "Approve that CTU organize a protest against contract, turnaround and charter school proliferation by calling for a emergency protest in response to any announcement of mass layoffs, scheduled for the Monday following such an announcement."

    Union president Marilyn Stewart herself came down off the dais to argue against the motion, blaming membership for the inaction of the CTU leadership in opposing these school closings and mass teacher firings.

    Passion for Auburn-Gresham

    From YoChicago

    Carlos Nelson was one of the ones who'd made it out of the neighborhood to an engineering degree and a job in corporate America. What drew him back to his old neighborhood? 

    Poor Economy Continues to Hit Illinois State Budget

    The sagging U.S. economy continues to take its toll on Illinois' budget. The state projects an $800-million shortfall this year due to lower-than-expected tax revenue.

    The deficit projection is based on data from the first four months of the state's fiscal year. Mike Klemens is a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Revenue. He says the projected $800-million shortfall assumes the economy will stay at the current level.

    KLEMENS: If the economy gets worse, it's going to be a bigger number. It's going to easily go over a-billion dollars.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Review of actual Election day

    Sorry for this late posting (Alderman Lyle sent this several days ago).

    Most of the residents in the 6th Ward voted before 3 p.m. There were lines at most precincts when the Election Judges opened their doors, and no one was complaining! Those lines had dissipated however by 2:00 p.m. In fact, with the number of early voters and absentee voters some of the precincts had voted 75% of their voters before 3 p. This huge early voting turnout creates a new election get out the vote timetable for the future.

    Visitors to my office yesterday told me that several of our neighbors on the South Side had no Election Day operations. We placed and fed Judges at 64 precincts a light breakfast and lunch. We also paid and fed passers who distributed literature to the voters for the sake of the down ticket races. (For the most part, the polls were covered all day.) Then we stayed in the office until all but 2 of the precincts reported their votes. So far without the 20th & 57th precincts having reported the Chicago Board of Elections reports that 27,019 voters cast ballots for President-elect Obama.

    Notes of interest:

    • What are the odds that the weather on a November election day in Chicago would bve 70 degrees and sunny? Did you understand that divine intervention covered this campaign?
    • Mary Pullins of 78th & Champlain voted on 76th & Cottage at 10:30 a.m. Why is this significant, you ask? Well Ms. Pullins is 107 years old and came to the polls as she does every year with her candidate already selected.
    • On the other end of the age spectrum, I saw young Black men at every precinct I visited which to me was a sign that yes we could win this thing. Whenever first time voters appeared at some precincts the Judges clapped for them and thanked them. I invited them all to come back again next year and the year after that.

    Once Pennsylvania was announced for Obama, we knew it was over. When they formally announced that they were calling it for the Senator, people ran into the streets shouting and dancing. Drivers honked their horns as they drove and gave each other the thumbs up signs. Strangers hugged, people cried (including me), kids jumped and down and folks popped Champagne bottles. I didn't live to see the Joe Louis celebration, but that's the only analogy I can give for the celebratory feelings of pride and happiness I witnessed.

    To all those who put a sign in the window; talked to a stranger or relative about the Senator; worked a phone bank; drove to another City; made a donation or gave him your vote; I thank you on behalf of the children of America.

    Freddrenna Lyle

    Transit Budget Hearings Start Monday

    Starting Monday, Chicago-area transit riders can let officials know what they think about next year's budget plans. The Regional Transportation Authority is holding the first of a series of public hearings. Both the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace have proposed fare hikes next year. RTA spokesperson Diane Palmer says that's the cost of keeping service levels intact.

    PALMER: That's something that a year ago, this very time, we were looking at system-wide fare hikes, service cuts, as well as layoffs across all three of the service boards. So we, quite honestly, are in a better disposition as it relates to our operating funding.

    Palmer says another challenge CTA, Pace and Metra face this year is a lack of capital funding. She says the agencies have not received new state money for capital since 2004.
    Another added bonus in this story is a link to other scheduled RTA hearings.

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Obama's elections impact on local politics

    A segment courtesy of CBS2's Eye on Chicago from this Sunday morning.

    Obama's first press conference

    Just in case you haven't had a chance to watch it, you can watch it here.

    LSC court hearing

    Chi-Town Daily News:
    Parents and education activists will head to court later this month to present the latest arguments in a long-running legal battle over appointment of local school council members at several Chicago campuses.
    The group says Chicago Public Schools broke state law by switching from elected local school councils to appointed ones at Orr High School campus, Carver Military Academy and some other city schools.

    The group seeking legal action includes Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), the West Side NAACP, and several community members and parents. They are asking a judge to overturn CPS' decision to replace elected councils.

    Circuit Court judge Sophia Hall dismissed the group’s original complaint April 11, but allowed the group to re-file the case. Elaine K.B. Siebel and Associates, a Chicago law firm working on a pro-bono basis, did so late last month.

    Arguments on the new case will be heard at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 19 in Cook County Circuit Court at the Daley Center.
    VIA Parents United for Responsible Education.

    Saturday, November 8, 2008

    Do you want to see Obama's inaugural?

    Visit this page and find out how you can get free tickets to the Inaugural activities on January 20th, 2009.

    Daley ready to dish out more TV taxes

    The free ride may be coming to an end for at least 135,000 Chicagoans who get their cable TV by installing a satellite dish.

    Tucked away in Mayor Daley's plan to raise the city's amusement tax from 8 percent to 9 percent is a proposal to broaden the amusement tax umbrella to include "direct-to-home satellite service."

    For years, the amusement tax has been tacked on to monthly cable TV bills. Satellite customers who purchase their service through DirecTV and Dish Network have gotten off scot-free.

    Now that Daley is scrounging around for every available dollar to plug a $469 million budget gap, the loophole may be about to close.

    The revenue package expected to be approved Monday by the City Council's Budget Committee requires DirecTV and Dish Network to provide the city's Revenue Department with the name, address and telephone number of all Chicago subscribers. The companies are further required to warn subscribers they are "liable" for the amusement tax" and "may receive a separate bill from the city."

    Friday, November 7, 2008

    Black power, Chicago style

    Clout Street talks about how blacks turned out heavily for President-elect Barack Obama. The 6th percentage was 99.27% of the vote. I saw the results over at the Board of Elections website. McCain didn't have a chance in any of the precincts. McCain never got more than 8 votes and in many precincts there were ZERO votes for him.

    The 42nd is No.1

    Division Street has the story, but now we just need to find a way to make the 6th, number 1 in voter turnout and registration.


    Thank you for subscribing, reading, commenting, and offering input or even tips on what's going on in your neighborhoods. Well I haven't had many but I look forward to more.

    One lady who contacted this blog, a very special reader, well aside from the Alderman/Committeeman of course offering to issue flyers for this blog. I would like to do more of that to really advertise this blog. That just means that I have to be either very creative or learn some graphic design (i.e. photoshop).

    All the same, I'm looking forward to year two. In year two I expect this blog to have more locally centered stories. I especially want to look at things in the neighborhood that deserves an upgrade.

    These issues might have the added effect of making this part of town a desirable place to live. We should focus on local business activity, Chatham is said to be home to many black-owned businesses. What would keep this ward a leader in entrepreneurial activity?

    Then there's crime. What can be done to make this ward a safer ward? Even those parts of the ward which might be seen as less desirable, but they deserve a solution to the issues of crime as well.

    Also education. What can we do to make our schools better schools in the ward? To be sure I've attended school in the ward for most of my young life. I know what it's like to attend these schools, but I'm out of the loop as far as how those schools are doing. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on how such schools as Shedd, Harlan, Gillespie, McDade, or Dixon are doing. Of course I didn't name all the schools, but I would like a progress report on them all. Even the private schools in the ward or even the day cares or preschools.

    I especially can tell you about Harlan. I've been out of Harlan for years and I still hear comments about Harlan's reputation. It's not a flattering reputation, but I would like to see that change. In fact it would be nice if instead of having parents in the ward send their kids across the city to a better high school, perhaps there can be a magnet program high school in this ward. Thus kids can go to a good school in this neighborhood.

    These are only some future ideas, but I'm sure if you read this blog, many of you will come up with better subjects for future posts. I want to hear from you. The e-mail hasn't changed, and I did change the template and the e-mail address has been effective obliterated. I'll get everything back up to speed here.

    I want to know what you the reader have in mind and I thank you once again for reading.

    The original 6th Ward Blog Welcome.

    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Auburn Gresham, Model blocks project

    I just decided that we can highlight other neighborhoods that has been covered by YoChicago on the south side especially those areas adjacent to the 6th. So we go west to Auburn Gresham.

    Description from YoChicago...
    Carlos Nelson talks about the role of speculators in his Chicago neighborhood, and the goal of achieving economic, age and racial diversity.
    More to come!

    YoChicago shot these videos last spring.

    CapFax: “Gimme some pork, gimme his seat”

    Chicago politicians are already seeking to get something out of Obama's ascension to the Presidency of the United State.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    A change in format

    This blog was literally flooded with posts since the summer. Without the influx of postings there wouldn't be over 1000 posts here already.

    All the same for the rest of the year and the forseeable future posts will be slimmed down. Perhaps to about 3 or so posts a day. I hope that at least one of those will be neighborhood posts.

    I still want to talk about city, county, and state politics. That won't change but they won't be as frequent. I just have to find away to compress those post so that instead of having say five I can make that into at least one to two posts and then keep one for the neighborhood.

    The one year anniversary is coming up soon. Perhaps in that vein this will be a neighborhood post and it's been an interesting year so far. I hope that year two will prove to be more interesting. We shall see, yes!

    Voters reject constitutional convention

    This was certainly the biggest dissapointment of the night from Crain's:
    Illinois voters decided against a constitutional convention referendum Tuesday, but the question may live on in the courts. 

    With 92 percent of precincts reporting, the referendum has 2,761,831 "no" votes, or 68 percent, and 1,313,853 "yes" votes, or 32 percent.

    The referendum asked voters whether the state should call a constitutional convention, which would allow officials to examine and rewrite the constitution. Voters would have to approve any proposed changes. State law requires the question to be on the ballot every 20 years.

    Proponents of the measure said Tuesday night they might sue over the way the referendum was worded on the ballot.

    Cook County Circuit County Judge Nathaniel Howse last month ruled the language on the ballot was unconstitutional. Howse said the explanation of the referendum had false and biased information.
    Howse ordered poll workers to hand out blue fliers about the misleading wording.

    But Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, one of the referendum's most fervent supporters, said many voters called him reporting county clerks who refused to pass out the fliers.

    "We didn't have much of a chance," he said. "The point is every election should be fair and equal. I think that's a principle worth fighting for."

    Obama's victory speech in case you missed it

    Via PubDef!

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Good evening!!!

    I was out all day because I was involved in a project away from this blog. It was an interesting experience doing some exit polling.

    I would have liked to have some of you report in from your respective precincts in the 6th Ward. People from others wards are more than welcome to chime in if they would like! It surely would have been worthwhile.

    Instead I come in like Johnny-come-lately to check out Illinois news that I couldn't check out before I left my computer almost 6AM this morning. Anyway if any of you readers want to chime in please do. And I'm referring to those who have actually voted on Election Day!

    What happened out there?

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Peraica and Alvarez talk tough at churches

    Peraica is likely to lose but at least he'll go down swinging! Clout St:
    Speaking separately before rapt congregations in West Englewood and North Austin, the candidates largely stuck to their scripts. Democrat Anita Alvarez touted her 22 years of experience as a prosecutor in the office and vowed to fight gangs, guns and drugs, while Republican Tony Peraica sought to paint himself as a reformer who would end corruption that he said distracts from public safety and leads to higher taxes.

    Peraica, speaking to a largely African-American audience, promised to hire a black as his top deputy—an apparent attempt to challenge the minority support for Alvarez, who would be the first Hispanic and first female to hold the post.

    Peraica said his deputy would be “from the neighborhood, of the neighborhood and for the people of Cook County," citing the disproportionate number of minorities in the criminal justice system. He vowed support for programs that would keep drug offenders out of jail, and said Alvarez has had decades inside the office to effect change, but hasn’t.
    Alvarez stressed her working-class roots and her love for the job, saying she is honored to serve as the “voice of the victims of crime.” She detailed her work on the case of “Girl X,” a 9-year-old who was assaulted, poisoned and left for dead in a stairwell at the Cabrini-Green housing project.

    She emphasized her role as a mother, and spoke of the office’s need to reconnect with communities, especially minority areas where there is a distrust of law enforcement.

    “I know who my victims are, right? My victims are minority,” Alvarez told the predominantly African-American crowd at Liberation Christian Center on the South Side. “They look like you, they look like me."
    It may not help that Peraica found himself interviewed by reporters from Entertainment Tonight with regards to the Hudson murders.

    Happy Election Day!

    Joe Zekas R.I.P.

     Joe Zekas ran the real estate news website YoChicago . If you have been following that site and their social media channels i.e. YouTube o...